Immigrant NYC, Episode 3: Becoming Irish-American (1790-1880)


This episode exposes viewers to the waves of Irish immigration to NYC before focusing on how the Irish were able to overcome anti-immigrant sentiment to consolidate political and economic influence in the city. It begins with the early, more privileged Irish immigrants-Often Protestants-who arrived in the 17th and 18th century. In many cases Irish were indentured servants as they dotted the fabric of New York society. The explosion of Irish immigration took place in the middle of the 19th century with conditions deteriorating in Ireland due to famine and English oppression. After an arduous journey to the US this group of immigrants found extreme discrimination, harsh living conditions and few economic opportunities creating conditions for tensions with the African-American community. Soon, however, the Irish began to get into NYC politics, benefiting from US immigration laws that privileged white immigrants. Assimilation came with city jobs as the Irish became a dominant force in the City’s Democratic Party through the infamous Tammany Hall.